May 29, 2013; Eden Prairie, MN, USA; Minnesota Vikings tackle Phil Loadholt (71) gets ready for the Minnesota Vikings OTA at Winter Park. Mandatory Credit: Bruce Kluckhohn-USA TODAY Sports
If you’re looking for an amusing football read, Grantland has a fun piece today about the horror show that was the 2009 NFL Draft. Was that draft the single worst in league history?
Robert Mays leaves no doubt about what he thinks.
“Twenty years later, we can reasonably call 1994 the birth of modern NFL drafting. That’s when the NFL went to a seven-round format, down from eight the previous season. Over that time period, and with five years of perspective, it’s safe to say that the 2009 draft is the worst of that era. It’s not really close,” Mays writes.
The piece then cuts open the draft in Richard Dreyfuss-like fashion, spilling a disgusting mix of blood, guts, half-digested food and God knows what else all over the dock.
Yes, it was that kind of draft.
It was the year the Rams took Jason Smith #2 overall, touching off a run of horrible picks the likes of which we’ve never seen outside of our nightmares.
Many of these names, fans were happy to forget. Some of them can never be forgotten.
And then there were the Vikings who…actually came out of that draft in pretty decent shape?
Yeah, it’s true. While the whole building was burning down, flaming beams collapsing and walls caving in and people screaming and being crushed and burned to death and choking on the smoke, the Vikings made their way calmly through a side exit and jogged at a leisurely pace to safety.
Of course the Vikings were lucky in that they only had five picks, none higher than #22 overall. It’s hard to go bust when you’re not picking high and when you’re not picking a lot.
But they didn’t only avoid going bust, they actually did okay.
Percy Harvin turned out to be a headache in the long run, but he gave the Vikings great production in the time he was there, and when it came time to move him on, Rick Spielman got a nice package in return (and, as a bonus, got to watch another team wildly overpay him).
Second round pick Phil Loadholt was a little bit of a slow developer but he ultimately did grow as a player and is now legitimately one of the top ten at his position if not top five.
Third rounder Asher Allen was a certified bust. Fourth rounder Jasper Brinkley eventually became a starter, but was only a mediocre starter in Leslie Frazier‘s system which arguably did not play to his strengths. Now Brinkley is back under Mike Zimmer.
The Vikings’ last pick that year, Jamarca Sanford, has rounded into form as an above-average safety.
So, in five picks the Vikings got solid value with three, some value with one and really only threw away one pick. In a normal year, that looks like a reasonably productive if unspectacular draft haul. In 2009 when other teams were absolutely shooting themselves in the face, creating roster problems it would take them years to mend?
The Vikings performed like draft geniuses in comparison. For once, the Vikes come out smelling like roses.